Destinations / North America

5 Grand Canyon South Rim Hiking Experiences You Have to See to Believe

A sturdy pair of hiking boots, plenty of water and sense of adventure is all you need to explore one of the world’s most iconic natural wonders on foot. A five-million-year-old canyon bursting with magnificent views and scenic trails, exploring the Grand Canyon South Rim is like walking through an outdoor museum.

With over 400 million visitors per year to HotelsCombined, we’ve done the legwork for you and have scouted the top five trails worth trekking to in the South Rim. These Grand Canyon’s trails extend from the South Rim down to the Colorado River, where you can choose your adventure based on your skill level, from an easy walk along the popular Bright Angel Trail to rewarding vistas along the more challenging Grandview Trail. Want to experience the full splendour of the canyon’s beauty? We’ve also listed some of the best lookout points in Grand Canyon South Rim where you’ll find iconic panoramic views during your hike, including a few unobstructed spots that are perfect for capturing a sunset.

While you can book a hotel directly on the South Rim, we also suggest considering the small resort town Tusayan where the Grand Canyon National Park Airport is located or the family-friendly Grand Canyon Village only three kilometres from the Grand Canyon Visitor Center.

Popular Grand Canyon South Rim Day Hikes

Hiking the Grand Canyons Kaibab Trail, South Rim
Photo| Hiker in South Rim Grand Canyon | GETTYIMAGES – JEREMY WADE SHOCKLEY

Rim Trail

Rim Trail, Grand Canyon South Rim
Photo| Rim Trail | SHUTTERSTOCK – ANTON FOLTIN

Extending from the Kolb Studio in the Grand Canyon Village to Hermits Rest, the Rim Trail stretches nearly 20 kilometres. Don’t stress, as you won’t have to hike the whole trail to reap its rewards because the entire trail boasts some of the best panoramas in the park. Shuttles are also available along the way for when you’re ready for a break.

Bright Angel Trail

Bright Angel Trail
Photo| Bright Angel Trail | SHUTTERSTOCK – KENNETH SPONSLER

Bright Angel Trail is popular for its easy accessibility and low level of difficulty, making it the perfect exploration route for first-timers. We recommend taking a hike to the first rest house at 2.5 kilometres in to get a feel for what hiking is like in the Grand Canyon, before taking on the more challenging Indian Garden at 7.2 kilometres.

South Kaibab Trail

South Kaibab trail, Grand Canyon south rim
Photo| South Kaibab Trail | SHUTTERSTOCK – ROMAN KHOMLYAK

Steeper than the Bright Angel Trail, the South Kaibab Trail offers the best views for a short hike. Here you can choose from a range of day hikes, from a strenuous 20-kilometre round trip journey to a shorter 2.5-kilometre hike to Ooh Aah Point. Cedar Ridge is further down and perfect for a snack break.

Hermit Trail

Hermit Trail
Photo| Hermit Trail | SHUTTERSTOCK – DEEP DESERT PHOTOGRAPHY

Tougher than the Bright Angel and South Kaibab Trail, Hermit Trail is ideal for hikers with prior Grand Canyon or desert hiking experience, or a guide. Hike along the rugged pathway to reach the Santa Maria Spring in four kilometres, and if you’re up for a challenge, hike to Dripping Springs in 5.6 kilometres but be careful as this trail is narrow and rocky.

Grandview Trail

Grandview Trail
Photo| Grand View trail | SHUTTERSTOCK – ARLENE WALLER

One of the steepest and most exposed trails in the Grand Canyon, Grandview Trail is not for the faint-hearted. Hike to Coconino Saddle one kilometre down or make it to Horseshoe Mesa five kilometres in and find an 800-metre change in elevation from the rim to the mesa.

Top Grand Canyon South Rim Lookout Points

Sunset at Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, GANRD CANYON SOUTH RIM
Photo| Grand Canyon Sunset | GETTYIMAGES – ABLOKHIN

Grandview Point

Grandview Point, Grand Canyon South Rim
Photo| Grandview Point| SHUTTERSTOCK – KENNETH SPONSLER

As the name suggests, Grandview Point is a must-see lookout with fantastic views of Horseshoe Mesa. It is the highest viewpoint along the South Rim at 2,300 metres in elevation and takes a journey through a narrow and steep trail to reach, but it’s worth it to soak in the views of prominent buttes, including Rama Shrine and Krishna Shrine.

Yaki Point

Yaki Point
Photo| Yaki Point | GETTYIMAGES – DOUGLEMKE

Yaki Point is the perfect spot to catch a sunrise. Named after the Yaqui Indian tribe, here you’ll see panoramic views of Bright Angel Trail and South Kaibab Trail. The last stop along Desert View Drive, savvy sightseers can also spot Wotan’s Throne, one of the canyon’s most recognisable features.

Lookout Studio

Grand Canyon Village, Lookout Studio, Grand Canyon South Rim
Photo| Lookout Studio | GETTYIMAGES – JOHN ELK

Built right into the edge of the Grand Canyon, Lookout Studio not only provides spectacular views but also contains a quaint souvenir shop. Blending into the landscape with the use of limestone and an uneven roofline, Lookout Studio has the feel of an old ruin.

Yavapai Point

Yavapai Point
Photo| Yavapai point | SHUTTERSTOCK – LUNAMARINA

Offering the best view from anywhere near the Grand Canyon Village, Yavapai Point is an ideal lookout point to start your adventure. It’s the best place to see just how deep the inner Canyon is as it snakes down to Phantom Ranch and the Colorado River. Be sure to enjoy the 3D displays provided by the Yavapai Observation Station.

Mather Point

Sunrise at Mather Point, Grand Canyon National Park, South Rim
Photo| Mather Point | SHUTTERSTOCK – JAY YUAN

Another great lookout point for first-time visitors, Mather Point allows you to get that initial awe-inspiring glimpse of well over half of the canyon. Sunsets here are particularly spectacular, as you’ll find an expansive overlook perfect for watching the warm colours of the rock pinnacles highlight the Vishnu Temple and Temple of Zoroaster.

Moran Point

Sunrise at Moran Point, Grand Canyon, south rim
Photo| Moran Point |GETTYIMAGES – ATON FOLTIN

Layers of vibrant red canyon walls glow at Moran Point, where you’ll see three of the Canyon’s main rock groups. A handy tip, come during the Golden Hour to soak in striking scenery of contrasting rock colours when the sun sets. Sunset viewing is particularly popular here not only for its beauty but because of a “Sinking Ship” illusion.

Desert View Drive and Desert View Watchtower

Desert View Watchtower Grand Canyon South rim, Arizona
Photo| Desert view watchtower| GETTYIMAGES – LUCKY – PHOTOGRAPHER

Starting at the Grand Canyon Village, Desert View Drive extends 40 kilometres to the Desert View Watchtower. Combining Native American designs and art, the Watchtower has a shop with souvenirs, local crafts and books. Climb up the watchtower to reach the highest point on the South Rim.

Lipan Point

Lipan Point, Grand Canyon South rim
Photo| Lipan Point| SHUTTERSTOCK – TOM ZEMAN

One of the park’s best-kept secrets, head to Lipan Point for a peek at the Grand Canyon Supergroup of sedimentary rock formations. Here you’ll find a vantage point of the inner gorge and the Colorado River winding its way through the Canyon hundreds of metres below.

What is your favourite thing to do in the Grand Canyon South Rim?

Creating quite the scene, the Grand Canyon’s South Rim offers numerous vantage points and trails that are suitable for a variety of skill levels. An awestruck experience even for the most intrepid traveller, the Grand Canyon is a natural wonder that you simply have to see in order to believe.

At HotelsCombined, we find a lot of travellers opting for activities in the Grand Canyon South Rim that combine rewarding hikes and memorable sights. It’s here that you’ll feel like a small speck in the world as you soak in panoramic views of the massive expanse of rock formations.

What is your favourite thing to do in the Grand Canyon South Rim? Let us know if you’ve been to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim and which hiking trail or lookout point you think is the best.

Looking for a place to stay in Grand Canyon South Rim? Staying Near Grand Canyon South Rim: Hotels vs Lodges

References

  1. Grand Canyon National Park
  2. GrandCanyon.com
  3. TheCanyon.com
  4. Visit Arizona
  5. National Park Foundation

Author: Charity De Souza

Born and raised in Orlando, Florida, I have been travelling with my battered backpack full-time for over a decade. My favourite travel memories include skydiving in Switzerland, wine tasting in Portugal, road tripping through Iceland, snorkelling in Indonesia and watching a sunset in the Sahara Desert.

Charity De Souza
Born and raised in Orlando, Florida, I have been travelling with my battered backpack full-time for over a decade. My favourite travel memories include skydiving in Switzerland, wine tasting in Portugal, road tripping through Iceland, snorkelling in Indonesia and watching a sunset in the Sahara Desert.
Posted on Categories Destinations, North AmericaTags ,

Tags

Recommended Articles

Destinations / United States

Where to Eat and Stay in Phoenix: Your Neighborhood Guide

Arizona’s biggest city is famous for its dusty red landscape and strikingly blue skies. But there’s far more to a stay in Phoenix than just great weather. Like the mythical bird...

Read More
Destinations / United States

Epic Colorado Road Trip Itinerary – What to See & Do

Colorado is considered a playground for adventurers, featuring spectacular natural scenery that includes bucket-list hikes, gorgeous lakes and the captivating Rocky Mountains. A...

Read More
Destinations / United States

Thirsty? Here are NYC’s Best Hotels with Sky Bars

Forget the Central Park in mid-winter and the One World observation deck — New York looks its best when viewed through the bottom of a glass. From sunsets over the Manhattan skyline...

Read More
Sebastian Morgan
I’m a blogger, history buff, and serious over packer, currently based in Taiwan. Eats, drinks, and destinations are my thing. When I’m not writing about those, I’m either hitting up the local hot springs or slurping down a bowl of sesame noodles. I hope to one day do both at the same time.
Posted on Categories Destinations, United StatesTags , ,

9 thoughts on “5 Grand Canyon South Rim Hiking Experiences You Have to See to Believe”

  1. SO much more rewarding to do a hike than peer over the edge of the canyon with hundreds of other tourists! I did the Grandview Trail a few years ago and it was amazing. And the best thing is they’re free! So much better than paying $400+ for a helicopter ride….

  2. Although the elevation change is intense, hiking the Grandview Trail is worth every step of the journey. For those looking for a slower change of pace, Bright Angel Trail is a good choice. In my opinion, Moran Point offers the most unprecedented views of the canyon’s endless landscape of undulating colour, especially right at sunset.

  3. This looks incredible!! I love my hikes! We now have a 9 month old baby, so these sorts of hiking trips gets placed on the back burner a bit! Those views are incredible! Adding it to the bucket list!

  4. While it’s true that the South Rim Trail is 20K, it is NOT true that it extends from the Kolb Studio to Hermit’s Nest (that’s about the halfway point, actually). The trail goes from the South Kaibab Trail to Hermit’s Rest (or vice versa). Also, be aware that the Bright Angel Trail is steep and could take twice as long to ascend as it takes to descend. Bring plenty of water and wear good footwear.

  5. My boyfriend and I hiked the S Kaibab trail down to Colorado and then came back up to the south rim via Bright Angel in just under 7 hours. It was absolutely amazing! I personally liked the S Kaibab better than Bright Angel…it was steeper but the views are breathtaking and the hike was just more interesting in my opinion. We took a shuttle from Bright Angel Lodge to the trailhead at 8:00 and it was 29 degrees out, but by the time we got to the bottom, it was about 70 degrees. I feel like you just can’t visit the Grand Canyon without checking this epic trail off of the list. Just don’t forget your trekking poles…they are a life-saver on this trail!

  6. It’s a really great article about grand canyon hiking. Thanks for your great content. Your full article has great information I love it so much. I will be wait for your next great content

  7. Really amazed at that, interesting paths. I have prepared for myself a pair of good thick and really trained to be able to experience the wonderful roads.
    Thank you for share!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.